David Blackburn

Middle East round-up

Middle East round-up
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Reuters is reporting that Libyan rebels have taken control of Libyan state TV – one of the last organs to remain in Gaddafi’s hands. It’s another indication that the dictator’s position is increasingly hopeless; although it appears that one of his sons may have been ‘liberated’ by resurgent loyalist forces. So there’s a glimmer of life in the Mad Dog yet and, plainly, the fanatics will fight to the last bullet, as they promised to do at the outset of NATO’s campaign. 

The sudden fixation with Libya has marginalised some other stories in the region. The UN's Human Rights Commissioner, Ravi Pillay, has revealed that the death toll in Syria has climbed to 2,200 from 2,000, despite President Assad’s promise to end his security crackdown. Turkey has repeated calls for Assad to cease operations against his own people, while also conducting its own week-long bombing campaign in Kurdistan

The weekend also saw an escalation of violence in Gaza and on the Israeli-Egyptian border. Tensions seem to have relaxed in Gaza, with reports now suggesting that Israel and Hamas have signed a truce, with the help of Egypt (£). But, the confrontation on the Sinai border remains. Egyptian presidential candidate and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa has urged that Egypt's ambassador to Israel be recalled, and has said that Egypt will be “complaint” with Israel no longer. He then branded Hosni Mubarak a “strategic asset to Israel”. The Egyptian interim cabinet is meeting today to discuss these issues.

It seems that, with the election drawing near, Egyptian nationalism and hostility to Israel will be a campaign tool for some politicians. Israel is worried by these developments, but prepared a contingency plan at this year’s Herzliya defence conference.